By the time Alex Smith crossed the end zone with a then go-ahead score with a little more than couple of minutes to go yesterday, parallels to "The Catch" and that fantastic game of 30 years ago were flashing before our eyes. Smith's scramble was dubbed "The Run," and much to the surprise of everyone, two more scores, each more improbable than the one before ensued as San Francisco defeated the Saints in what will surely go down as one of the better post season games on record.
Hell, that was a great game period.
The thing is I had already begun this piece as the game started. I had already named the column, in fact. And, though I did not think the Niners would prevail yesterday, if you check the comments from my words of last Tuesday (that is the comments in response to the column, although feel free to read the article as well!) I noted I had feelings about the week, but to check in a couple of more days out.
But, well, by then every writer from here to the bottommost bar on the Barbary Coast will have made the above comparison.
As the game started at 1:30 local time I began writing, with "...the closer we got to Saturday, the more I started thinking how all leading up to the San Francisco/Saints game today reminds me a lot of the week preceding the fantastic 49ers/Cowboys game for the NFC Championship in 1981. The game, played just 30 years ago (January 10, 1982) broke so many shackles for the Niners.
To start, they beat Dallas in the first place, a playoff rarity in-and-of itself (the Niners are 2-5 lifetime in the post-season versus the Cowboys, including that 1982 win). Second, the team, aside from a three-year run between 1970-73, had not made the playoffs since 1958, and had never been to a Super Bowl.
So, while that Game, and the ensuing victory announced the arrival of Bill Walsh and his Forty-Niners and the West Coast Offense, and years of dominance, "The Catch" defined the game.
At that time in my life, I was still married to my son Joey's mom, although it was a little less than five years before Joe would make an appearance. But, I was going to Graduate School at the time, and being Mr. Mom to Ava's sons.
I specifically remember that Sunday, for I had some errands to run, and I also remember going by the Cal Berkeley Library, for I was researching critical reviews of "Hamlet," and the Moffitt Library had Shakespeare Quarterly and all sorts of other great stuff.
And, then timing it so by the time I got home for the 1 pm game was just about ready to start.
Of course the home team won the game 28-27 and there was much rejoicing locally. And, the Niners became serious local darlings as a result, not to mention that source of pride that seems to accompany a team and its community when a championship is won."
Then I stopped writing. For the game had started and, while I thought I would write the whole piece in anticipation of the contest, as I wrote I decided it would be more fun to complete after.
In fact, I did write one more sentence that I was going to end with, as I was still pretty sure New Orleans would prevail. That was, "..I was--and still am--pretty sure that Drew Brees is the best player in the league right now, and his team will win."
In fact, I did not realize just how much I was suddenly rooting for San Francisco until Smith bootlegged around left tackle for his score, but from that point my heart was rising and sinking as it did back near the end of that Dallas game.
I am not sure if I was wrong in my pick back then, but I surely was today.
How cool is that?